Lipstick Chronology #25: Maybelline Vivids, Pt. 1 (Vivid Rose and Brazen Berry)

Names: Maybelline Color Sensational Vivid Lipstick in Vivid Rose (875) and Brazen Berry (905)

Dates Purchased: May and June 2013

Grades: A, A-

Notes: Since I don’t have all my lipsticks with me in San Francisco, I’m writing my Vivids reviews slightly out of chronological order. I bought one of my five Vivids, Fuchsia Flash, before either of the two I’m reviewing today, but Vivid Rose and Brazen Berry were the two I brought from home, so here we are.

When the Vivids came out in the spring of 2013, they were welcomed with the same rapture that had greeted the Revlon Lip Butters in late 2011. I read somewhere that beauty brands like to release at least one bright lipstick in every new collection because the bright colors draw customers in, even though the bestsellers are almost always the neutral lipsticks! So I suppose Maybelline was taking a risk with a collection composed entirely of brights, but people certainly fell for the hype, and by “people” I mean “yours truly.”

If you came here hoping for a post debunking that hype, you’ll be disappointed. The Vivids are my favorite drugstore lipstick formula, and one of my favorite lipstick formulas ever. The other Maybelline Color Sensational lipsticks I’ve tried (e.g. Ruby Star, Nude Lust) haven’t blown me away formula-wise, but the Vivids are smooth, shiny, pigmented, long-lasting, and beautifully moisturizing, even on my sad, desiccated lips. I’m not crazy about the packaging (all the Vivids have those bright, tacky orange caps, and as you can see in the photo above, the silver paint has begun to wear away from the bases), but for me, at least, cheap-looking packaging is a minor problem.

That said, I have to add that I wish Maybelline were cruelty-free. If they were, I’d probably get a picture of Vivid Rose tattooed on my butt. As it is, I feel hesitant to recommend these lipsticks wholeheartedly. I know, I know: my stance has been very inconsistent over the past few months. I think it was February of this year when I decided to buy cruelty-free beauty products whenever possible, and though I’ve done a decent job of holding myself to that promise, I’ve had a few lapses. Part of the problem is that cruelty-free drugstore makeup is almost non-existent here. So far as I know, Milani is 100% cruelty-free, but the other big drugstore brands have all compromised themselves in some way. NYX was just acquired by L’Oreal. Revlon sold in China until this year, but even though they’ve pulled out of the Chinese market and their products aren’t currently being tested on animals, they reserve the right to sell in other markets that require animal testing. Maybelline has never claimed to be cruelty-free.

My position on all this is constantly changing. I realize that ethical consumption is impossible in late capitalism blah blah etc. I try to patronize cruelty-free beauty brands, but many of those brands (with the exception of smaller indie companies) are owned by giants like L’Oreal or Shiseido. The meaning of the phrase “cruelty-free beauty” varies from source to source. It’s all very difficult to puzzle out, but it’s a constant source of worry for me. In any case, I bought these two lipsticks over a year ago and plan to use them until they run out, so let’s carry on with the review.

Brazen Berry is a bright pinky purple (very Radiant Orchid), and Vivid Rose is a deep raspberry fuchsia. All my lipsticks eventually acquire this pointe-shoe shape.

Arm swatches, same order:

The only other fuchsia lipstick I have with me is MAC Candy Yum-Yum, which is brighter, bluer, matte-er, and more neon than Vivid Rose. Candy Yum-Yum on the left, Vivid Rose on the right:

Vivid Rose on lips, directly in front of the window (with this neighborhood’s unrelenting cloud cover making the color read bluer than usual; I swear I had year-round SAD when I was growing up here):

Indirect light:

Full face from a few weeks ago, plus NARS Lhasa eyeshadow:

I love wearing fuchsia lip colors, and Vivid Rose is one of my favorite fuchsias (its only rivals being Candy Yum-Yum and Revlon Fuchsia). I don’t wear it terribly often, because the color is so intense, but I wish I had more occasions to pull it out. Here I am wearing Vivid Rose at a wedding reception last year:

Brazen Berry is my lightest, brightest purple lipstick. From left: Brazen Berry, NYX Butter Gloss in Raspberry Tart, MAC Up the Amp, and a custom-made lipstick from the Bite Beauty Lab. Pardon the wonky swatches; I ran out of left-forearm space and had to use my left hand to swatch on my right arm. The horror.

On lips, in front of the window:

On lips, indirect natural light:

Full face:

Brazen Berry goes on translucent and needs two coats for full opacity (which is why it got an A- instead of an A), but the slight sheerness actually works in its favor. It’s one of my most-worn lipsticks, and certainly my most-worn bright lipstick, and I think the sheerness is the reason. Brazen Berry is unmistakably purple, not one of those cowardly purple-tinged pinks, but it does let your natural lip color peep through. My mom loves it, too! I recommended it to her after Up the Amp gave her an allergic reaction, and I noticed yesterday that she’s bought two backups of it. She likes layering it with Revlon Berry Haute, a mauvier purple, to tone down the brightness.

I’m now settled in San Francisco for the next two and a half weeks, and the jet lag was less bad than I feared (though I did fall asleep before 7 pm that first night). Today, on my way back from a neighborhood coffee shop, I passed a chalkboard sign advertising cupping, massage, and past-life regression. It’s good to be back.

16 thoughts on “Lipstick Chronology #25: Maybelline Vivids, Pt. 1 (Vivid Rose and Brazen Berry)

  1. Aaaaand here the Vivids are again, l mocking me!!! 😛 I hear SO many good things about these, and you're not making it easier!!! Exclamation marks!!! ;-)These are pretty awesome (especially the purple – and you've also reminded me how much I want to try that butter gloss in Raspberry Pie) – I don't know what's kep me from them, except possily that the first one I tried swatching was a coral one that had a very pale, plasticky, Barbie like base to it. It could have been a dud. It could have been the terrible drugstore lighting, it could be that that's just the one shade in the line that wouldn't like. If it weren't Sunday evening right now, I'd be walking down to the pharmacy to check again!I feel you on the cruelty free thing. I also get slightly depressed by the fact that if you are using makeup that is made from ingredients approved as safe by the FDA, then you're using makeup that contains ingredients that were tested on animals. Sure, the testing was done years ago, but that's the only way it got approved for cosmetic use. If you are using makeup that contains ingredients not approved as safe for cosmetic use, then you are very brave!


  2. Heya! I love the Vivids, too, but I'm with you on the cruelty-free thing. I don't really buy from companies anymore that I know for sure test on animals (CF brands under parent companies that test, though, I still haven't completely weaned myself away from). I've been looking into natural makeup brands, which tend to sometimes be more expensive, but I've been thinking a lot about consumption and accumulation, too, and how maybe it's better for me to own less products (that may or may not be more expensive) that I'm 100% comfortable buying, using, and recommending.If you have a couple of extra bucks on you and would like to try something natural and CF, ILIA Beauty makes great lip colors in awesome formulas!


  3. I've started thinking a lot more about ethics and my habits of consumption. It's just so unnecessary to test on animals, especially as the bulk of cosmetic ingredients were tested on animals long ago, and there are better tests now than using animals. For now I'm letting myself feel ok about using CF brand that are under parent companies that test (e.g. Nars), and for the rest of my makeup that isn't CF, I'm just trying to buy a lot less of it. That being said, I still really want to try the newest Chanel eyeshadow quads! Sigh.And then there's the whole environmental sustainability thing.You suit these bright lipsticks so well! I've been branching out into the more purple-leaning lip products lately. Who knows, I might even put some up on the blog. Also, I noticed that you wear blazers a lot! (Well, in like two posts that I can remember.) ❤ blazers.


  4. Yep, I have to echo The Painted Rogue's comments up there – all components were tested at some point, and continue to be tested, so it's hard to take a clear stance on animal testing. But the FDA doesn't regulate completed cosmetics, so…it's all still very fuzzy. Doesn't mean we should all give up, but I tend to be annoyed with people who want everything to be black and white all the time.That said, both of these are lovely on you. I thought about buying that purple one, but eh, I still have MAC Narcissus and that'll do for now.


  5. That's a great point about animal-tested ingredients. My feeling is that what's past is past: pretty much every chemical compound we use was tested on animals at one point, often decades ago, and there's nothing we can do to change that. So I don't have qualms about using makeup whose components were once tested on animals, because, as you point out, that's ALL makeup. My problem is with companies that continue to test finished products/formulas on animals when other technology exists–but even that is a complicated subject.Hmm, was Shocking Coral the one you tried? I bought that at one point and didn't like it either. Though for me the problem was that it looked like a cool fuchsia on my lips, and you don't buy a lipstick called \”Shocking Coral\” if you want a cool fuchsia…


  6. Carina, your blog was actually one of the reasons I started thinking about cruelty-free makeup! And I agree that a small, carefully curated collection of high-quality products is ideal; alas, I still have quite a few less-great things I bought before I knew what I liked. I've come across very few reviews of ILIA products, but I'm going to look into the brand! There are certainly a lot of CF brands that I have yet to explore fully, like Hourglass, Bite, and Illamasqua.


  7. I LOVE BLAZERS. And I probably have too many, but I wear and cherish all of them. ❤ Most sweaters and cardigans don't work on my body type (large bust, small ribcage and waist), but blazers tend to fit me nicely. My uniform for most of the year is a blazer, a v-neck t-shirt, and dark skinny jeans, and come summer I'm never quite sure what to do with myself…I find designer makeup so tempting, too. I love the one YSL Glossy Stain I own, and I'd like to try some Guerlain and Givenchy products as well. And then there's the problem of finding an HG product that isn't cruelty-free (the Vivids are definitely HG status for me) and having to search for a replacement. It's really hard to find a lipstick formula that doesn't dry out my lips, and when I do find one, I don't want to abandon it, you know? Bah.


  8. I agree that it's not a black-and-white issue. The more research I do on the subject, the harder it becomes to settle on a definition for \”cruelty-free.\” It seems like the only way to ensure that you're pursuing cruelty-free beauty is to…not buy beauty products. I just looked up MAC Narcissus and it's really pretty! No one needs as many purple lip colors as I have…


  9. Ah, seeing Vivid Rose on two lovely ladies (you and Larie) is too much. I should just cave in already! I am against innocent animals being tortured in the name of beauty, but also have shamelessly thought products that went through animal testings show less adverse effects on my skin, too. It is messed up, I know. To my defense, I've had less than good results from \”cruelty free all natural organic stuff\” before, but I've fallen in love with some new skincare line recently that is good both in quality and ethics! This is motivating me to try harder. It is definitely not a black and white matter like Larie said, but I will try. 🙂


  10. Good grief, really? Cool fuchsia… on me it looked like Barbie white-pink. I swear really pale skin messes with stuff even more than lip colour sometimes! T_TI agree about the 'past is past' thing, otherwise we'd all have to stop using half the stuff in our lives because we'd have to avoid anything connected to BASF. In the same vein, people would have to stop buying/promoting Hugo Boss. And the list goes on. 😛


  11. Aww, thanks! The one shade I definitely do not rock is salmon pink (e.g. Revlon Pink in the Afternoon). I also don't do well with lighter orangey corals like MAC Vegas Volt, which I tried and tried to wear before admitting defeat. Now I'm curious to see the orange Vivid on you!


  12. I think Vivid Rose would be so pretty on you! It looks fairly close to NARS Priscilla. 🙂 And I'm not in the business of judging anyone for not buying CF makeup religiously, since the line between CF and non-CF is so fuzzy. But I'm glad you've found some new CF skincare that works well! Most of my skincare products come from Lush, which is a company I feel good about patronizing.


  13. It looked Barbie white-pink in the tube, but my lip color worked its alchemy within a minute and then, bam, fuchsia. I never thought I had super-pigmented lips, but certain lip colors definitely read darker and cooler on me than they do on other vampiric folks…


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